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October 12, 2018

Local slaughterhouses violating Clean Water Act, environmental report says

Meat processing plants in Philly suburbs and Delaware have paid fines

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pennslyvania-slaughterhouse-water-pollution-flickr Montgomery County Planning Commission/via Flickr Creative Commons

The Skippack Creek runs near a beef processing plant in Souderton, Montgomery County.

Slaughterhouses generally provide a mental picture that is best avoided, but a new environmental report provides another not-so appealing reality: they’re illegally dumping their wastewater — including feces, fat and blood — into U.S. waterways.

Several meat processing plants in the Philadelphia suburbs and in Delaware are mentioned in the report, WHYY reports.

The Environmental Integrity Project's report this week examined Environmental Protection Agency enforcement and compliance data for nearly 100 large slaughterhouses across the country, with a specific focus on those that produce more than 250,000 gallons of wastewater a day.

The report found that between January 2016 and June 2018, three-quarters of those slaughterhouses violated the Clean Water Act with inappropriate disposal of wastewater contaminated with blood, fat and feces. Topping the list of the most affected areas is Sussex County, Delaware, where five chicken slaughterhouses are settled on just over 1,000 square miles.

RELATED READ: Your old contact lenses are contributing to microplastic pollution in our food

Interestingly, the report claims the Mountaire Farms plant in Selbyville, Delaware, has violated the Clean Water Act every quarter for the last three years by discarding waste into the Sandy Branch section of the St. Martin River. Similarly, the Allen Harim plant in Harbeson, Delaware, racked up more than 90 Clean Water Act violations over four years, the report contends. In Pennsylvania, the Keystone Protein poultry slaughterhouse in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, was reportedly hit with 62 violations over the one-and-a-half-year period — paying $1,030 in fines, according to the report.

10122018_JBSSouderton_GESource/Google Earth

The JBS Souderton beef processing plant in Souderton, Montgomery County, sits near Skippack Creek (at top right).

In Montgomery County, the JBS Souderton plant — the largest beef processing facility east of Chicago — was cited for violations of the Clean Water Act 18 times during the observed period for illegal discharges into Skippack Creek, the report contends, citing EPA data. 

Clearly this is a BIG problem in our area, and current penalties would seem to be slap on the wrist for these large companies — serving as a fine to for them to continue their environmentally-unethical actions.

The thing is, not all processing plants mentioned in the report were found in violation of the Clean Water Act. That seems to provide evidence that it is possible for these plants to operate within the confines of the law.

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